More often than not, references to this ‘straight path’ is made in arrogant and condescending tones denoting that only a single interpretation of Islam is possibly acceptable and that everyone else are misguided deviants. This is like saying that there is only black and white and every colour in between doesn’t exist. I’ve seen this and many other similar sentiments appear on Tumblr, and the only emotions it stirs in me is the same frustration I experience when I sit in the masjid and listen to the condescension and rhetoric flowing thick and fast from the tongues of so many self-righteous imams that barely represent the sunnah in their physique, manner or disposition.
Islam is not a monolithic structure with a hierarchy that has only a single route to the top. There is only One Allah. This is indisputable and is also the only unforgivable sin. There are a million ways to achieve Allah’s pleasure and mercy, so assuming that there is only one interpretation or practice of what ‘THE straight path’ is, is a fallacy most often grounded in self-indulgent piety.
This same inflexible thinking is what gives rise to sects and madhabs and so many other deviations that are hardly ever the teachings of the true pious scholars but instead are excessive interpretations by their over zealous followers. Those sects that were formed through the self-proclamation of its founders are blatantly misguided, and those that were formed through the proclamations of its followers have always been questionable.
The lazy ones insist on labels. The arrogant ones judge without true knowledge. The fools pronounce takfir on others without concern for their own standing with Allah. The same way that there is a million ways to give charity, and each way earns Allah’s pleasure, there is a million ways to be a Muslim without deviating from the principles that Islam has established through the example set by Rasulullah (SAW). Anyone that insists otherwise is at risk of judging others from a position of religious arrogance rather than true concern.
Sahih Bukhari ~ Vol 3, Book 49. Peacemaking. Hadith 861.
Narrated By ‘Aisha : Allah’s Apostle said, “If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected.”
Principles, not traditions. Far too often we confuse the two and end up hopelessly refuting people on the basis of arrogant affiliations rather than true contradictions or innovations that violate the principles of Islam. May Allah protect us all from such ignorance and arrogance, the combination of which is fatal to our iman.